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Devil's Night Arson Spree Back in a Big Way in Detroit

November 01, 1994| Reuters

DETROIT — This city's Devil's Night arson spree returned with a vengeance, officials said Monday, with hundreds of fires set and more than 300 teen-agers arrested for curfew violation. At least two people were charged with setting fires and police expected more arrests.

"This goes back to one of our worst nights since I have been on the job," Fire Chief Archie Warde said as firefighters struggled against one of the blazes.

Television reports put the number of fires Sunday night and Monday morning at 200 to 300.

By late afternoon, 314 teen-agers had been arrested for violating the Devil's Night curfew, and several families had been left homeless.

In nearby Highland Park, Mich., 1-year-old Destiny Wilson was dead and four other people were injured after a fire swept through a four-story apartment building.

Destiny's sister, Ivory, 3, was in critical condition, said a Detroit Children's Hospital spokeswoman.

Fire officials said they believe the apartment house fire was an act of vengeance against someone living in the building and not related to Devil's Night, but they could not be sure.

In the past, Detroit had taken drastic steps to control the number of Devil's Night fires, including ordering a dusk-to-dawn curfew for teen-agers and organizing residents into patrols to discourage arsonists from torching abandoned buildings.

However, officials said only 8,000 volunteers were on the streets this year, contrasted with 40,000 last year.

In recent years the number of arsons had fallen dramatically, with only 65 reported last year--no more than on an average night.

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